Last week’s North Atlantic Seafood Forum in Bergen, Norway, brought some of the top names in seafood and aquaculture together. These included the CEOs of Norway’s salmon farming giants Mowi, Grieg Seafood and Cermaq, among others.
While the companies are rivals in the salmon business, their CEOs had one thing in common at last week’s conference: a shared critique of Norway’s controversial “salmon tax“.
During his presentation at the Forum, Mowi’s CEO Ivan Vindheim said that Norway’s salmon production will come under increased pressure if the proposals go ahead. “A tripling of the tax will mean reduced growth,” he said.
“There is no such thing as a free lunch. A tripling of the tax burden means reduced investment,” he argued, before adding, “That means reduced market share.”
Cermaq CEO Steven Rafferty added to the gloomy view, warning that “double taxation compared to other salmon-producing countries will send investments and jobs out of Norway”.
Meanwhile, Grieg Seafood’s Andreas Kvame also said uncertainty over the tax means his company is cutting back on planned investments. The company’s capital will be “primarily used for maintenance” in 2023, he said, adding that Grieg will concentrate on its Newfoundland operations, spending NOK 300 million on marine facilities.
“We need to know whether we have a reasonable future,” Kvame said, adding that he agrees with Vindheim’s assessment of the situation.
“We just have to fight on,” Vindheim said in his presentation.
Job losses and frozen investments
Norway’s ground rent tax, nicknamed the “salmon tax”, proposes to introduce a top tax rate of 40% for salmon aquaculture, if approved by the Norwegian parliament this spring.
The tax proposals have already caused significant upheaval in the Norwegian salmon industry. In November, Leroy Seafood announced the closure of four processing operations, resulting in over 300 job losses. Last week SalMar’s SalmoSea announced it would cut 110 jobs, saying the salmon tax was partially to blame.
Other companies, such as Cermaq and NovaSea, announced they had frozen investments or chosen not to renew licences in Norway pending the Storting’s decision, which is expected to be made before summer 2023.
The tax controversy is not limited to Norway, however. The Faroe Islands government is also mulling proposals to increase land tax for aquaculture. If approved, the top tax rate would increase from 5% to 20% for Faroe Islands salmon producers such as Bakkafrost.
About the North Atlantic Seafood Forum
The North Atlantic Seafood Forum is the world’s largest top executive seafood business conference, taking place annually in Bergen, Norway. The next meeting of the forum will take place 5-7 March 2024.